I have been busy trying to wrap up our fall study of insects. I never imagined we would enjoy finding and viewing insects as much as we did and I am sure part of it was the information provided in the Handbook of Nature Study. Anna Comstock provides such great investigations into the individual insects and we learned so much just by taking a few minutes each time we found a new insect to stop and really look at it. I think everyone in our family has gained a new appreciation for the little creatures we pass by so often.
Speaking of that topic, I had completely forgotten that we had our own personal laboratory in our house for studying a particular insect. Our Fire-Bellied toad eats crickets every morning and we keep a ready supply on hand but I had never thought to investigate them in the HNS. Sure enough, there on page 344 there is the start of a whole section on crickets. On page 346 there are instructions for making a "cricket cage". Pages 347 and 348 have observations questions for you to use with your cricket.
Here's something interesting from page 346: "There would be no use of the cricket's playing his mandolin if there were not an appreciative ear to listen to his music. This ear is placed most conveniently in the tibia of the front leg, so that the crickets literally hear with their elbows, as do the katydids and the meadow grasshoppers. The ear is easily seen with the naked eye as a little white, disclike spot."
Our crickets don't make any noise so I don't know what that means. They are rather small and we purchase them at the feed store, 40 crickets for $2.00. They are much smaller than the local crickets we find in our yard. They are golden in color. I am going to ask at the feed store the next time we get crickets and see if they know what variety of crickets they are. Even though our particular cricket is not listed in the HNS, we can still read through the sections on black crickets and snowy tree crickets and apply the information to our crickets. See, I am learning to not use this big book as a field guide but as a way to familiarize us with general information about something we find in our nature study. :)
Barb-Harmony Art Mom